After a resounding 17-1 victory against Carpinteria High School last Thursday, Cate faced local powerhouse San Marcos High School in a battle between (arguably) the two strongest girls’ tennis programs in Santa Barbara County. While Cate did not come out on top, there is no doubt that the match had a positive impact on the season and that energy yielded results in Malibu yesterday.
Cate v. Carpinteria, Win 17-1
Cate was utterly dominant in doubles, with pairings Carol Cai/Sarah Polowczak, Jackie Cai/Fritze Mayer, and Janice Ng/Jennifer Soh dropping just six games across 9 sets.
In singles play, Kate Tunnell recorded a 6-0, 6-2, 6-2 sweep and usual singles players Grace Fuss and Sydney Burton added two 6-0 sets each before subbing out. Mia Foster rounded out the match with a 7-5 tie-break win in the third.
Cate v. San Marcos, Loss 8-10
Cate players reprised their roles from the previous day’s match, with Jackie Cai remaining in the doubles lineup, partnered with Mayer and Tunnell continuing her work in the singles lineup.
In the first round-of-play, Cate jumped out to an early 3-1 lead, with a 6-2 win from Cai/Mayer at #2 and a 6-1 victory from Ng/Soh at the #3 position, along with Sydney Burton’s 6-1 victory at #2 singles. Despite dropping the #3 doubles match-up, Cate looked likely to go up 4-2 or even 5-1 at the end of the first round.
In singles, Fuss gave Yuka Perera (#150 in the country in the junior class) all she could handle, before finally dropping a closely contested 4-6 set. Fuss has come into her own in recent weeks and has been playing some of the best tennis of her still-young career at Cate.
In doubles, Cai and Polowczak were up 4-1 at one point in a contest between two #1 doubles teams that had not yet tasted defeat on the season. The San Marcos pairing of Kelly Coulson (recently ranked #300 in the country for the junior class) and Sam De Alba were 35-0 going into the match. Unfortunately, the SM team turned things around and rattled off five consecutive games to take the set.
In the second round of play, the match-ups favored San Marcos slightly, and they took a 6-5 lead with one match remaining on-court. That matched had begun well for the Cate #2 duo Cai/Mayer, with the senior/freshman pairing jumping out to a 3-0 lead, but as the match went on they found themselves down 4-5 and then 5-6. After holding serve to force a tie-break, the Cai and Mayer struggled to get a foot-hold in the tie-break, going down 2-7 against the still undefeated SM #1 team of Coulson/De Alba.
Beginning the third round down 5-7 made the task of leveling the match difficult in the final round. While Cate had the games to win a 9-9 tie, the sets were harder to come by. In the end, the final round was locked in a 3-3 tie, giving the edge to San Marcos by the narrowest of margins for the third consecutive season.
After the match, the Cate squad was noticeably disappointed, but showed class in defeat. With a strong speech from captain Jackie Cai and Janice Ng, Cate proved resolute in committing to make the changes necessary to beat other D1 teams like San Marcos, turning the loss into a win. This is the mark of great teams and successful people, an indicator of character.
Cate @ Malibu, Win 16-2
Grace Fuss led the charge, easily beating the sharks #1 and #2 players without dropping a game, while Sydney Burton and Sarah Polowczak added two wins each and played the Malibu #1 close. Mia Foster substituted for Fuss in the third round to add a 6-1 set.
In doubles, Carol Cai and Fritze Mayer swept their three sets (6-0, 6-1, 6-0) and Kate Tunnell/Jennifer Soh also swept their three rounds in convincing fashion. Jackie Cai partnered with Janice Ng for two wins and then added a third set with Piper Brooks.
Cate plays next against old foe Thacher on Friday on the Cate Mesa. Cate took the previous meeting in Ojai by a 13-5 score and looks to improve upon that performance.